Many people are
out of convenience.
For those same people divorce is a convenience. Many get married with the selfish attitude that says, "I'll get married, try it for a while and if it doesn't work, if I don't like it, I'll get a divorce." Yet, God views marriage to be a covenant relationship, not just something legal. For example, in the U.S., a marriage is only legal with the signing of a civil marriage license. Such may be a contract and not a covenant at all. Many couples get married by a judge, a justice of the peace, or other public officiant. They need not go to a church in order to marry.
A covenant is an agreement that involves promises and commitments. The Bible describes the marriage as a spiritual covenant that is just as binding, and just as sacred, as the covenant that God has made with the Church. In fact, we find that God speaks of the husband/wife relatiionship when describing connection with believers (cf. Jer. 31:31-32). In the New Testament the blessed relationship between Christ and the church is described by the covenant relationship of the husband and the wife (Eph. 5:22-ff). Marriage is a holy union before God.
Malachi prophesied in a time of general apostasy and unfaithfulness. The people's apostasy was characterized by an atmosphere of general covenant breaking. In Malachi's time divorce was a real problem and became a central issue in all of the sins of the people. Thus God declared, "I hate divorce" (Mal. 2:16). There is more to divorce that just incompatibility, or "I just don't love him/her anymore." It is something so serious that it involves breaking a covenant that is just as binding and sacred as a covenant that Jesus Christ makes with believers who are Saved by Grace through Faith.
A fact that many fail to realize is that, though it is a man and a woman that make the commitment to be married, they are: (1) joined in that commitment with God and (2) bound in that covenant relationship by God. Our Creator instituted marriage from the beginning and declared, "..What therefore God has joined together, let no one separate" (Matt. 19:6). A marriage covenant involves more than an individual, their spouse, and the law of the land; it involves God and the covenant that God has bound when a man and woman vow their commitment in a Covenant of Marriage.
Whether you are preparing for marriage
or are already leagally married,
all hetero-sexual couple are invited to enter into a
Covenant of Marriage
with a sense of obligation and responsibility before God.
God does have a plan for your marriage. God desires to see your love grow and bear fruit. The goal of a Covenant of Marriage is not to merely enjoy each other’s company nor is it to simply endure to the end. The goal of a covenant marriage is to glorify God in your relationship and to exemplify Christ to the world.
As you look at your present relationship with God and your spouse we encourage you consider these actions. As individuals, evaluate your present lifestyle and relationships based on God’s Word. If you are divorced and there is the possibility for reconciliation and restoration of your marriage, seek God’s will in reconciling with your spouse. If that is not possible, ask for God’s forgiveness and direction in accordance with His Word and your local church family. If you are sexually active in your relationship with your fiancé you need to understand that God views this as a sin. Ask for God’s forgiveness and for His strength to abstain from all sexual activity that dishonors Him and your spouse-to-be.
The Covenant of Marriage is intended by God to be a lifelong fruitful relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage is a vow to God, to each other, our families and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in our relationship.
A Covenant is not a “Contract”.
Contract is an agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law. Contracts are based on protection and mistrust. They allow the parties involved to look for loop holes and exist clauses, and are centered on your rights and protection. In fact, the Holy Bible doesn’t say anything about “contracts” anywhere!
The term “covenant” means “a coming together.” In the Holy Bible, the word covenant is translated in Hebrew over 300 times! The meaning of the Old Testament word is bond; a covenant refers to two or more parties bound together. The New Testament term has usually been translated as covenant, but testimony and testament have also been used. The generally accepted idea of binding or establishing a bond between two parties carries with it the concept of “cleaving,” or sticking together like Super Glue! Yet, covenants were not unique to God and Christians. They existed besides the ones God initiated with the Church. Covenants existed between families, tribes, clans, and brothers. But God brought a new element to the otherwise common practice of covenant making. God brought the Divine into the ordinary. He became the initiator of a covenant with believers, which reached far beyond the grasp of humankind.
Difference between a Contractual and Covenant Marriage:
Contract: I take thee for me.
Covenant: I give myself to thee.
Contract: You had better do it!
Covenant: How may I serve you?
Contract: What do I get?
Covenant: What can I give?
Contract: I’ll meet you halfway.
Covenant: I’ll give you 100% plus.
Contract: I have to.
Covenant: I want to.
A Covenant of Marriage is intended by God to be a lifelong relationship exemplifying unconditional love, reconciliation, sexual purity, and growth. A covenant is an eternal commitment with God. People can negotiate out of contracts, but not out of a covenant. The heart of covenant marriage is “the steadfast love of the Lord,” which comes from the very heart of God and “never ceases” (Lam. 3:22, RSV).
What Elements Make up a Covenant Marriage?
Covenants are the fruit of a loving, faithful relationship. The vows we exchange at our wedding reflect a relationship already bound by steadfast love and faithfulness. The degree in which these words have meaning comes in direct proportion to the unconditional love that dwells within our heart for the one to whom we are repeating them.
Covenant partners take responsibility for their actions. As partners in a covenant marriage relationship, we are responsible for our actions. An example would be to remain “sexually pure” in our thoughts and actions towards our spouse. Covenants are based on freedom of choice.
Covenant marriages are not built on coercion, deceit, and manipulation. Wives, submission is freely given and grows from respect, not fear and manipulation. In like manner, husband, choose daily to love your wife “as Christ loved the church.” You must freely choose to love and honor her in spite of the fact that you may not “feel” like loving and honoring her.
Covenants are rooted in actions based on choices, not feelings. Our feelings are forever fluctuating. Therefore to build a covenant marriage on feelings is to build it on shifting sand, which cannot support the foundation of marriage.
Covenant partners nurture their relationship. Our marriage will grow as we build up one another in love. This takes place when we value our spouse more than ourselves. As we experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, we are able to love our spouse as He loves us. Covenant partners administer unconditional love, forgiveness, and reconciliation while providing comfort and hope to their partner.
Covenants are based on commitments freely offered. A covenant is built on selfless love, freely given and freely received. As strange as it may sound, a covenant marriage is one in which the “tie that binds” the couple together is a commitment freely offered with no strings attached. Paul said it well: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).
Believing that marriage is a covenant intended by God to be a lifelong fruitful relationship between a man and a woman, The ELEVEN© Formula will help you vow to God, to each other, our families and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in our covenant marriage relationship. Seize it! Share it!